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Situational Awareness Toolbox Talk

In this toolbox talk, learn about situational awareness and how being aware of your surroundings can be an important safety precaution to preventing accidents on the construction site.

Be Aware Of Your Surroundings Safety Talk

Situational awareness at work is a crucial part of your health and safety. But how many people truly know what it means to be aware of your surroundings? Do you know how to learn or improve this skill? In this safety talk, we will go over what situational awareness is and ways you can improve on it in your daily lives including at work.

What Is Situational Awareness?

Situational awareness refers to being aware of what is happening around you, where you are in relation to other people and things, and what potential threats there may be.

Situational awareness is a critical foundation for successful decision making in most situations that you can be put in at work. Many of these situations can involve your health, your safety, and your job performance. Lacking or not having adequate situation awareness has been identified as one of the primary factors in accidents related to errors or mistakes.

Situational Awareness And Risk Management

Situational awareness is often split into three elements:

  • perception of the elements in the environment

  • comprehension of the situation

  • projection of future status

These three elements basically mean you not only need to understand what is going on around you, but also be able to communicate and act on situations that put you at risk.

All of these elements should be part of the risk management strategy on a job site. Should you have questions about how this pertains to your job talk to your supervisor or foreman.

How To Improve Situational Awareness

Often people are overwhelmed when you start talking about situational awareness and everything that goes along with it. There is nothing to worry about. Situational awareness is a skill that can be learned and improved constantly. It is a skill that can save lives, maybe even your own. Below are some tips that can improve your situational awareness.

1. Assess Risks From All Angles

You should learn to look at things with a 360-degree focus, not just from your view. Can you see what others are seeing? How is it different from what you see? Are there other factors that can impact the situation? Question everything! Questioning without judgment is a key factor in successful situational awareness.

2. Consider The Subconscious

For you to effectively engage in situational awareness, to make logical decisions, and look to the future with a strategic focus, the subconscious must be engaged and assessed. Simply put, in order to have situational awareness you have to be open to a variety of perspectives and insights. This is how your strengths and opportunities for improvement can be identified. If you are biased on your views it can lead to risks for you and your coworkers.

3. Communicate With Others

Being able to communicate with others your perception of the risks is a vital part of the awareness strategy. An effective strategy requires that everyone be on board and the best way to achieve this is to be able to communicate with each other. You should be able to communicate at each stage of a risk assessment or the potential hazards with everyone that is involved.

In other terms, this could mean simply instructing workers on the safest way to do things or telling your supervisor about health and safety hazards you see on a job site. It can also mean that you ask for help when you know that you need it. Like if a job is too risky for one person to do it, or if a machine seems faulty. Last but not least do not assume that just because you told someone about a risk or a correct procedure that they heard you or they agreed with you. Make sure you communicate until everyone involved understands what is going on.

4. Situational Awareness Training

Getting situational awareness right early on is important when you are working on a construction job site. Make sure you understand all the policies and procedures before you start a new job. Ask questions about certain job scenarios and even role play if it helps you get a better understanding of what you need to do. Allow other coworkers to give you ideas of what could and could not work in situations. Make sure if your employer provides training on situational awareness that you attend because you can always improve yourself.

5. Work As A Team

It is important if you have a management role or even the role of a team leader that you practice situational awareness. If your team sees you doing it then they are likely to follow. If team members see each other doing it then they will all follow suit eventually. It has to be a conscious effort for everyone to have a 360-degree view of situations and show others the importance of doing so.

construction worker practicing situational awareness on the jobsite.

Situational Awareness Examples

While situational awareness may not seem like a big deal to you it can help you on a job site. Having situational awareness can keep you and your coworkers safe. It can make you more aware of your surroundings, it can give you a different perspective on things, and can also make you see risks.

Some examples practicing situational awareness are:

  • Staying out of the line of fire - meaning staying out of harm's way with moving objects and other hazards

  • Speaking to a coworker about unsafe actions - not everyone will be affected by risks that your coworker may take but if you recognize these risks and bring them to their attention it could make them change their way of thinking. Recognizing that negative could result from unsafe behavior and speaking up to prevent these injuries from occurring is situational awareness.

  • Stopping work to make adjustments - Sometimes things do not go as you planned and thought they would. Being able to stop a task and make adjustments as needed is necessary. If you are doing this to make tasks safer for you and others and to get the task done more efficiently you are showing situational awareness.

Practice Safety Awareness & Prevent Injuries!

You must have situational awareness when working in a fast-paced work environment such as the construction industry. There are hazards and risks every day on the job site and to keep yourself and your coworkers safe you have to be aware of them. Situational awareness is a great tool to use to prevent injuries and after all, you are the best resource to prevent injuries from happening.

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